Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ubuntu's Messaging Menu

Ubuntu's messaging menu provides quick access to messages- email, IM or "microblogging". It's devised by Mark Shutleworth himself, as part of Ubuntu's attempt to clean up the notification area. As with other changes in the notification area, it either has users enthusing or thinking about moving to another distro.
On the face of it, Messaging Menu seems to be a nice idea, but it's not been well received by some for several reasons:
  • It only works with the Evolution email program. If you use Thunderbird, it's pretty useless.
  • It's set up with Empathy IM as default. It works with Pidgin, but for Pidgin users who don't use Evolution or "microblog", it was unnecessary- many just removed the Messaging Menu applet and kept Pidgin in the tray.
  • The Messaging Menu was obviously intended to work with email notification applets (or email notification applets were intended to work with Messaging Menu!), but none of the email notification applets actually did.
  • Ubuntu Lucid Lynx beta users who had removed Messaging Menu found they had no volume control in the notification area.
Here are two tips that make Messaging Menu a little more useful.

1) How to add a Thunderbird launcher to Messaging Menu.
2) A GMail notification applet that integrates with Messaging Menu.

Update: OMG Ubuntu! has the GM-Notify story. Some of the comments mention a bug that affected me too: GM-Notify doesn't autostart.
Another comment mentions an alternative: Gmail Notifier (and the OMG Ubuntu! is updated with details).